HC Deb 27 June 1989 vol 155 cc449-53W
Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the research sponsored by his Department into alternatives to pesticides for pest control.

40. Mr. Donald Thompson

The following research projects on alternatives to pesticides for pest control are currently being carried out for and by my Department.

Integrated control of pests on outdoor crops The use of natural enemies, chemical and cultural methods to control aphid pests in cereals.

Biology and ecology of pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms

  1. (a) The development of new methods of insect management using non-polluting chemicals affecting behaviour.
  2. (b) The development of methods using natural predators and pesticides in integrated control systems for pests of arable crops.
  3. (c) To determine the effects of straw incorporation and cultivation techniques on populations of pest aphids and beneficial insects, and to assess the implications for future pesticide usage.

Control of diseases in cereals To develop methods, involving biological control, agrochemi-cals, host resistance and husbandry practices to minimise the harmful effects of takeall.

Development of oats and diseases resistant cereals To evaluate new sources of disease resistance and to incorporate new resistant germplasm into high yielding winter and spring oat varieties.

Disease and pest management in agro-ecosystems har-monised with the environment

  1. (a) To rationalise the development of resistant varieties by understanding the mechanisms underlying genetic host resistance, its specificity with regard to pathogen variation, its relationship with non-host resistance and the corresponding implications for its durability.
  2. (b) To identify and conserve genetically resistant germplasm of currently important crops and minor alternative crops. Characterisation and determination of the durability of such resistances and their deployment in disease management systems using reduced pesticide inputs.
  3. (c) To develop an holistic approach to the deployment of genetic resistance in the field with special reference to grassland cereal farming and farm forestry in de-intensified systems.
  4. (d) To integrate the use of natural biocides, particularly Bacillus thuringiensis toxin, genetic resistance and systemic pesticides in the management of crop pests and diseases.

The improvement of dry peas To define an optimum model for composition of storage compounds in a pea seed by understanding genetic variation and storage product accumulation in embryos, to improve the quality of peas for use as food and feed, and to improve disease resistance in the pea crop.

Pests of non-cereal crops To develop methods for the containment of soil, dwelling nematodes by the integrated use of crop rotations, reliable resistant cultivars and efficiently-used, safely-formulated nematicides, thereby delaying selection of virulent nematode pathotypes and minimising cost and risks to operatives and the environment. Particular attention is paid to potato cyst nematodes and to other nematodes of forage and grain legumes. Problems of nematode attack in oilseed rape and other alternative crops such as sunflower and lupin are being investigated. Studies on the nature of host tolerance to nematode attack and the complex interactions between nematode host races and culture resistance are contributing to the development of integrated control measures. 8. Bird damage assessment and development of control techniques. 9. The biology of storage arthropods and development of physical and biological control strategies. 10. Laboratory and field evaluation of novel methods of pest control. 11. Control of storage pests using modified atmospheres. 12. Cereals: soil-borne fungal diseases. 13. Control of specific weeds and headland weed control. 14. Alternative cropping systems. Includes work on milling wheat production under organic farming systems. 15. Novel methods of pest control.

Field Vegetable Breeding Genetic improvement of lettuce. Work to find new sources of genetic resistance to downy mildew, lettuce root aphid and important viral diseases. Genetics of host resistance to disease and development of resistant breeding material for important fungal and viral diseases.

Field Vegetable Pests Resistance of vegetables to insect pests, including biochemical methods of screening plant material for resistance, and pest-host plant interactions.

Field Vegetable Diseases Biology, resistance and control of diseases of composites, crucifers and legumes. Methods of control through resistance, including durability of single gene resistance. Screening for resistance to cucumber mosaic virus in marrow.

Field Vegetable Weeds Development of novel programmes for weed control in vegetable crops, including cultural and other techniques for controlling weeds with less reliance on herbicides.

Top Fruit Breeding To breed and select apple, pear, cherry, plum scion varieties and rootstocks which, amongst other attributes, are resistant to pests and diseases.

Top Fruit Protection In vitro techniques for selection for resistance to fireblight. In vitro techniques for testing for resistance to bacterial canker in cherry. Biology, ecology and control of apple and pear pests, including regulation of spider mite in apples by predatory mites, regulation of P. pyncola on pears by predators.

Soft Fruit Breeding Breeding and selection of strawberries and raspberries which, amongst other attributes, are resistant to pests and diseases.

Soft Fruit Protection To elucidate the biology of wilt disease of strawberries and to improve control through biological means; select and exploit plant resistance for wilt control. To study the biology, ecology and pest/damage relationships for several pest species, together with the development of control strategies.

Hop Production and Protection Evaluation of wilt resistance in breeding material of hops. Control of damson-hop aphids by introducing or encouraging the migration to hop gardens of natural predators. Study of factors affecting the sexual activity and migration of damson-hop aphids to identify weak points in its life cycle. Evaluation of biological agents for controlling the two-spotted spite mite.

Glasshouse Crop Pests Biological control of major glasshouse pests (whitefly and red spider mite), secondary pests (especially aphids and thrips) and newly-established non-indigenous pests.

Glasshouse Crop Diseases Integrated control of bacterial and fungal pathogens, utilising biological agents.

Evaluation of biological and other novel methods for pest control in greenhouse crops Improvement in efficiency of Bacillus thuringiensis for arthropod pest control. Use of fungi for control of arthropod pests. Use of insect viruses for control of phytophagous pests. The diagnosis of pathogens in invertebrate pest populations. Use of insect parasite nematodes for pest control of glasshouse and mushroom pests.

Mushroom Protection Novel control methods for mushroom pests, including behaviour-modifying chemicals, antagonists, repellants, and insect-parasite nematodes. Biological control of bacterial blotch disease.

Hardy Ornamental Nursery Stock-Protection Control of disease in the propagation of container-grown nursery stock, including biological control.

Bulb Breeding Use of induced mutations and conventional methods to breed disease resistant Narcissus cultivars.

Bulb Protection Control of fungal diseases of ornamental bulbs and corms, including screening for genetic resistance and biological control methods.

32. Development of integrated control methods for Western Flower Thrips.

33. Control of Narcissus basal rot by antagonists.

Influence of pests and diseases on grassland agriculture, and their control by biological means

  1. (a) To develop non-polluting methods of controlling pests and diseases in newly-sown grassland with emphasis on legumes.
  2. (b) To determine the magnitude of losses of grassland legumes to pests and diseases and, thereby, the potential for application of biocontrol methods to grassland.
  3. (c) To determine the potential of endophytic fungi in ryegrass as a means of biocontrol of grassland pests.

Diseases and pests of forage grasses and legumes

  1. (a) Host: nematode relationships in forage grasses.
  2. (b) Host: nematode relationships in forage legumes.
  3. (c) Host: fungus relationships in forage grasses.
  4. (d) Host: fungus relationships in forage legumes.
  5. (e) Host: virus relationships in graminaceous and legume species. Mechanisms of host resistance.
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  7. (f) Identification of genetically resistant germ plasm in grasses and forage legumes.
  8. (g) Relationships between endophytic fungi and their grass hosts.

Exploit genetic variability in forage grasses

  1. (a) Develop selection criteria and produce new gene combinations in perennial ryegrass.
  2. (b) Enhancement of new germplasm created by hybridising Italian and perennial ryegrass and development of new gene combinations in Italian ryegrass.
  3. (c) Develop and evaluate ryegrass/fescue hybrids with new potentials for coping with climatic change.

Develop techniques and exploit genetic variation to improve legumes Exploit genetic variation to improve yield, reliability of yield persistency and seed yield in white clover.

Field boundaries: biological components influencing invertebrate predator overwintering

  1. (a) To create overwintering habitats on farmland which favour the development of high numbers of polyphagous predators by modifying existing boundaries and by creating new ones.
  2. (b) To monitor the accumulation of predators in autumn and winter in these new habitats together with their dispersal, distribution and predation rate in the crop in spring and summer.
  3. (c) to convert the date into 'packaged' advice which could be made available via Videotex methods with ADAS co-operation.

Exploitation of predatory beetles and parasitic wasps resident in field margins, hedgerows and shelter belts around grassland To enhance the number and variety of predators and parasitic invertebrates present by increasing the size, stability and diversity of the flora in hedgerows, field margins and shelter belts around grassland and to investigate ways of how this may best be achieved.

Epidemiology and inter-relationships between clover viruses of pasture crops and field boundary ecosystems To determine the field host range and interactions of the major viruses and their vectors that infect white clover, relating this to the ecology of hosts in field boundaries and in grassland crops. To identify for development resistant genotypes in white clover and related species and genera.

Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements exist to ensure the competence of farm workers to apply pesticides; how these requirements differ according to the pesticide in use; and what are the different categories of such pesticides.

Mr. Donald Thompson

All people using pesticides have to be competent in their usage. Employees, and the self-employed, must have had adequate instruction and guidance in safe and efficient use. Additionally, people may not use certain pesticides unsupervised unless they hold an appropriate certificate of competence, or are working on their own or their employer's land, or are exempted by age. The arrangements are set out in the Ministers' consent to use pesticides (C(i)) published in theGazettes on 20 January 1989 and in "Reference Book 500 (Pesticides 1989)".

The pesticides attracting certification as a result of consent C(i) are each identified in "Reference Book 500". In brief, these are the pesticides approved for professional cultivation of crops and management of weeds. Certification thus extends beyond farm workers, but does not cover all their activities. Pesticides approved for use as, for instance, rodenticides, or for the protection of stored products do not attract certification.

Mr. Jack

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps have been taken to improve his Department's methods of responding to any public concerns on particular pesticide use or residues.

Mr. Ryder

My Department responds promptly to all new information on pesticide safety. It also provides the public with information on the government's very extensive controls on pesticides and pesticide residues, and on the widescale monitoring of residues in food and the environment which it undertakes.